Solar panels are an enticing investment, but some homeowners are nervous to make the switch because they aren’t sure if the climate where they live is ideal for solar panels.
A large part of this doubt comes from people who wonder how solar energy is affected by the shorter, colder days of winter.
We’re here to clear up the mystery surrounding solar energy in winter months.
Here’s everything you need to know about how solar panels work in cold weather.
Many people have this idea that if it’s cold outside, there must not be a lot of sunlight. After all, sunlight generates heat, right?
Solar panels produce electricity from the sun’s light, not the sun’s heat.
Regardless of the temperature outside, the sun will continue to shine. Although it might seem counterintuitive, the truth is that solar panels actually work best in cold weather.
Temperatures above 77 degrees Fahrenheit actually negatively affect the efficiency of solar panels.
There’s a lot of complicated science behind this fact, but in short, the potential difference between electrons at rest and electrons excited by the sun correlates to voltage. If electrons at rest are excited by heat, then the difference between the electrons at rest and the excited electrons is smaller, meaning less potential voltage.
Therefore, cold, clear days are the best for solar energy generation.
Solar panels in cold climates actually function incredibly well, granted the sky is generally clear. Cloudy days will, of course, obstruct production, since the panels will be able to absorb less sunlight.
Even though we just determined that solar panels in cold climates can actually function better than solar panels in heat, there are a lot of factors this depends on.
For instance, this only holds true for clear days. Many areas with cold climates experience excessive snow in the winter, which means days with thick clouds covering the sun.
Also, the days are shorter in the winter, so regardless of the efficiency of solar panels, you’ll still experience less sunny hours during the day.
While there might be days of amazing production, good weather tends to be less predictable in the winter, which could lead to some low production days. You might want to increase the angle of your home solar system panels to capture the maximum amount of light.
Snow on solar panels shouldn’t be an issue since the panels are durable and angled so that the snow will likely slide off. Plus, sunlight can still reach a solar panel with snow on it. In addition, the dark glass of a solar panel will accelerate the melting process.
If, however, the snow is completely covering the panels for an extended period of time, you may need to clear it off.
Let’s say you get unlucky and your system doesn’t produce as much solar energy in winter as you were hoping.
Don’t sweat it. Your solar-powered house will seamlessly transition to pulling electricity from the electric grid.
All that excess energy your home solar system produced during the summer will help you counter the cost of this energy usage. Your utility bill will be calculated from the grid energy you used minus the excess energy your panels generated in the past that was stored in the grid.
So, essentially, regardless of the effectiveness of your solar panels in winter, your bill could still be $0.
As incredible as it may sound, solar panels really can be as reliable as the sun. Make the switch to a solar-powered house with help from Greenlife Solar.